Newsom unveils plan to reopen California, ease stay-at-home restrictions amid coronavirus pandemic

ByLiz Kreutz and Alix Martichoux KGO logo
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Newsom announces plan to reopen state amid COVID-19 crisis
California's Governor Gavin Newsom releases criteria for easing social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- California's Governor Gavin Newsom released a detailed plan for easing social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday.

Newsom said the ability to fully reopen the state was predicated on six criteria:

  • Expand testing and doing contact tracing for those who test positive
  • Being able to protect California's most vulnerable populations, including seniors, homeless individuals and those with compromised immunity
  • Ensuring medical facilities are equipped to handle potential surges
  • Working with research hospitals and other research partners to pursue therapies for the virus
  • Making sure businesses, schools, and other public spaces can continue physical distancing
  • Being able to return to more strict measures, as needed

"Because you have practiced physical distancing ... you have bent the curve in the state of California," said Gov. Newsom. "The models have changed because of your behavior."

Newsom echoed the sentiment of Santa Clara County Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody, who also said earlier in the day, "We are not out of the woods yet."

On Tuesday, Newsom declined to give an exact date when stay-at-home orders might be lifted, but said he would re-evaulate progress on the six outlined criteria in two weeks and address the issue of timing then.

"We talk about what the new normal will look like. As I said, normal it will not be. At least until we have herd immunity and a vaccine."

RELATED: Coronavirus herd immunity in California? Dr. Patel explains why there is no evidence to back that theory

Newsom announced the death toll in California had reached 758, an additional 71 deaths in the past 24 hours.

"We've really started, so to speak, to bend the curve," said Dr. Sonia Angell, California's Department of Public Health Director. "That doesn't mean we can just let everything open and send everybody back into the streets ... Because indeed if we remove all of our interventions, we will again expect a surge."

Dr. Angell and Gov. Newsom detailed some of the way the state may look different even as society begins. For example, at restaurants, they said, you may see servers wearing face masks, menus may be disposable, you may have your temperature taken before entering and there may be half as many tables as before.

The governor said the possibility of mass gatherings, like concerts or sporting events, was "negligible at best" until a vaccine was widely available.

Dr. Angell laid out the six criteria in detail. Watch more in the video below:

Dr. Sonia Angell, California's Department of Public Health Director explains the 6 key indicators that need to happen before reopening the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newsom emphasized the state is offering this top-level guidance, but local governments may keep stricter guidelines in place, or accelerate reopening based on the needs of the local community.

"There's no light switch here. I would argue it's more like a dimmer," said Newsom. "This is an imperfect science. There is no playbook that someone else has put together."

The shared vision for reopening the state was developed with governors from Oregon and Washington. While each West Coast state is building a state-specific plan, Newsom reassured that the "incremental release of stay-at-home orders" is a decision made in coordination with the two western states to keep people healthy and safe, using "science to guide our decision-making and not political pressure," in an apparent rebuke to President Trump who asserted that it was his call for when states can reopen.

"COVID-19 has preyed upon our interconnectedness,'' the three governors wrote. "In the coming weeks, the West Coast will flip the script on COVID-19 - with our states acting in close coordination and collaboration to ensure the virus can never spread wildly in our communities.''

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